The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of September. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Jason Brancheau from the Amarillo Bulls. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Brenden Datema from the Amarillo Bulls. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Ethan Haider from the Minnesota Magicians. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Jason Brancheau, Amarillo Bulls
It was a big month for Ferris State recruit and Amarillo Bulls forward Jason Brancheau. The 19-year-old from River Rouge, Michigan, led the NAHL in scoring during the month of September with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in 7 games played as the Bulls moved to the top of the NAHL and South Division standings with a 6-1-0 record. Brancheau (5’9/177) had four multi-point games and was a +9 during the month. “Jason’s talent was evident from day one last season. His skating and puck skill are elite, which is why he received his NCAA commitment to Ferris State so early. Jason’s compete level and ability to play with high intensity on a consistent basis is what has taken his game to the next level. The way he thinks the game and sees the ice, allows him to make good decisions with the puck and at times slow the game down. He finished the last games of the 2017-18 season playing on a line with Alex Peterson and Brett Abdelnour, allowing them to create some chemistry, which has led to their hot start this season season. Jason has also come back to Amarillo more prepared to be a leader and a mentor for some of our first year players. He takes that responsibility seriously and has done a great job of it to this point,” said Amarillo head coach Rocky Russo.
“We have bought in to what Coach Russo has been preaching from the very start of training camp and that has paid off in a good start for us. I think going through what we did last season really helped us grow and prepare for this season,” said Brancheau. “I want to continue to try and become a better player and work harder and harder each day. It is a goal of mine to be one of the top forwards in the NAHL. I think the sky is the limit for us and we have a team that contend for the Robertson Cup.”
Runner-Up: Rex Moe, Odessa Jackalopes
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Erik Bargholtz, Janesville Jets – Jon Bendorf, Aberdeen Wings – Louis Boudon, Northeast Generals – Zach Krajnik, Kenai River Brown Bears – Taylor Lantz, Minot Minotauros – Kyle Moore, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jax Murray, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Aaron Myers, Minnesota Wilderness – Anton Rubtsov, Shreveport Mudbugs – Dante Sheriff, Austin Bruins – Samuel Solensky, Johnstown Tomahawks – Ryan Taylor, Bismarck Bobcats – Gabe Temple, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Cam Thiesing, Chippewa Steel – Dallas Tulik, Topeka Pilots
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Brenden Datema, Amarillo Bulls
Like his teammate Jason Brancheau, Amarillo Bulls defenseman Brenden Datema, 19, was a main reason behind the Bulls success in September. The 6’5/220 lbs. native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, led all NAHL defensemen in points during the month with 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games played. His six goals are actually tied for the current NAHL lead. Datema, who is in his second NAHL season, had four multi-point games during the month as well. He has already surpassed last season’s point total of nine. “We are very proud of Brenden for the way he has started the season. He took his summer very seriously, adding muscle and improving his game in a number of ways. He returned to Amarillo prepared to be a leader and play in all situations and his results are currently reflecting that effort. Brenden is a very good skater with good offensive instincts and an NHL quality shot. He has been a calming presence in our defensive zone and his stick and physical play have helped us to succeed on the penalty kill. We look forward to watching Brenden continue to grow and develop this season and in the future,” said Bulls head coach Rocky Russo.
“I think our returning players have been key to the good start. We have bought into 100% of Coach Russo’s systems and coaching and things have paid off thus far. I worked really hard this summer to become a better player and athlete,” said Datema. “I really want to help us make the Robertson Cup. The South Division is tough, but I know we have a group that can do it. Beyond that, I would really like to play NCAA Division I hockey.”
Runner-Up: Max Finner, Topeka Pilots
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Lincoln Erne, Minot Minotauros – Jordan Gonzalez, Chippewa Steel – Andrew Hicks, Janesville Jets – Michael Higgins, Northeast Generals – Markuss Komuls, Kenai River Brown Bears – Sam Malinski, Bismarck Bobcats - CJ McGee, Shreveport Mudbugs – Jed Pietila, Austin Bruins – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Hunter Toale, Johnstown Tomahawks
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Ethan Haider, Minnesota Magicians
It was a busy and productive month for Magicians rookie goalie Ethan Haider, 17, who got his NAHL career off to a flying start. The Clarkson University commit and native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, posted a 3-2-0 record in five games in the month of September. While Haider (6’2/205) did lose two games during the month, he never allowed more than three goals in a game, posting a goals against average of 1.60 and a save percentage of .951 in September. Haider also led the NAHL with two shutouts. In total, he stopped 155 of 163 shots that came his way in 300 minutes of playing time. “Ethan has been very strong in the net to start the season. He is playing with a lot of confidence and the team believes in him. We are excited to watch him continue to progress this season,” said Magicians head coach A.J. Bucchino.
“I think the jump from high school to the NAHL is a significant different, so I just tried to adapt the best I could and keep my team in games. The pace of play and speed of the shots was the most noticeable difference. You can’t take a day or a game off in this league, because it’s too good for that,” said Haider. “I want to maintain a high level of confidence. My dream is to play in the NHL and I know the NAHL has a great track record of developing goalies, so I am where I want to be. The next step for me is to continue to improve, help my team win as many games as possible, and try and win a Robertson Cup. We have a tight group with a lot of character and talent.”
Runner-Up: Brett Miller, Austin Bruins
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Sam Best, Corpus Christi IceRays – Cole Brady, Janesville Jets – Leo Chuard, Shreveport Mudbugs – Harrison Feeney, Lone Star Brahmas – Ben Garrity, Minot Minotauros – Emil Gransoe, Topeka Pilots – Carter McPhail, Johnstown Tomahawks – John Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats – Matt Vernon, Aberdeen Wings – Dennis Westergard, Kenai River Brown Bears – Ryan Winter, Amarillo Bulls – Owen Zdunski, Chippewa Steel